Dutch politician Geert Wilders to go on trial for inciting hatred

(REUTERS/Michael Kooren)Dutch far-right Party for Freedom (PVV) leader Geert Wilders sits in a courtroom of the courthouse in Schiphol, the Netherlands March 18, 2016.

A Dutch court in The Hague ruled last Friday that Party for Freedom (PVV) leader Geert Wilders will be tried for inciting hatred based on a speech he made in 2014.

During a party rally in 2014, the Dutch politician asked the crowd whether they want fewer or lesser Moroccans in the Netherlands, to which the crowd replied, "Fewer! Fewer! Fewer!"

More than 6,400 complaints were filed against Wilders due to the incident, as reported by The Washington Post.

The trial began in 2014 but was suspended. A judge ruled that the trial can proceed again on Oct. 31, in which he will be tried on the "suspicion of insulting a group of people based on race and inciting discrimination and hatred."

Wilders has been tried previously for calling for the ban of the Quran and comparing it to Hitler's "Mein Kampf." He won the case in 2011 when a court ruled that the justice system should allow for the free expression of political ideas even those which are deemed repulsive.

According to The Economist, his accusers are now arguing that the speech he made in 2014 does not deserve the same protection because it is directed against an ethnic group rather than a religion.

In response to the ruling, Wilders tweeted, "Prosecuted for what millions think. #politicalprocess #goaway."

His lawyer, Geert-Jan Knoops, said the case is just an excuse for political repression.

"This discussion belongs in political debate, not in front of a court," he said to the judges in The Hague.

Maurice de Hond, a Dutch pollster, believes the case will not diminish Wilders' chances in the elections.

"If it has any effect, it will be positive for him," said de Hond. "It will confirm his followers' belief that he is being persecuted by the elite," he added.

The Sun reported that PVV is ahead in most opinion polls and is predicted to take 35 of the 150 available seats in the Dutch parliament. Wilders has promised to remove Holland from the European Union if he is elected.



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